Jevišovka
Jevišovka, Czech Republic
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Little Red Cap on white snow

Available in: English | Česky

Until the early 1950s, present-day Jevišovka, which was by then known as Frélichov, had a predominantly Croatian population. After World War II, the presence of the Croats in the border region had become undesirable for political reasons and most of the local residents were relocated to the Czechoslovak interior. Some families, including the Hubení family, preferred to escape to nearby Austria rather than to live in socialist Czechoslovakia. While her parents together with her younger siblings had already successfully crossed the border, the eldest daughter, Štěpánka took perhaps the most exciting journey of her life in the winter of 1949. “I got up early in the morning, at about five o'clock and I went to say goodbye to my cousin. She gave me a blanket on my way just in case I was cold. Together we then walked out of the house and took a walk around it. I knew it was the last time. Then she accompanied me to the Thaya River and showed me where I was supposed to cross it to the other side. I was told that I had to be careful. I was told to hide if I saw soldiers. She also told me that on the right side of the river, there was a grove that is visible from afar. There were supposedly no soldiers behind that grove. I was told to go through it and once I was out of it, I’d be in Austria,” Marek recalled. In the depths of the winter, Štěpánka wore a red cap. That her bright red cap that was shining against the snowy background could easily reveal her only dawned on her by the time she was halfway through her journey and return was not possible anymore. “Then I crossed the Thaya. I lay on the frozen ground and I crawled. I think that a mile or two took me about three hours. The Thaya was frozen, but not on the edges, so my feet would sink into the earth. But I didn’t feel anything, neither the wet nor the cold, I didn’t care. Then I saw the soldiers, I walked on and ran through the forest... I met some people there who worked in the field. From a distance, I watched them and I heard them speaking Czech. Jesus Christ, what now? I thought I was still in Czechoslovakia,” she recalled. After a while, she mustered all her courage and asked them in Czech where exactly she was: “And they replied to me in German: ‘Sie sind im Breinerhof,’ ‘You’re in Breinerhof.’ So I knew I was in Austria. It was such a relief. It was as if a stone fell from my heart.”

Stefanie Marek

Stefanie Marek

Stefanie Marek, née Hubená, was born in 1930 in Frélichov. At home they spoke Croatian, but Stefanie went to a German school in nearby Drnholec. She only learned Czech after the war, when she was sent to work for a farmer in the Bohemian village of Vohančice nearby Tišnov with her mother and siblings. In 1949, the family fled under dramatic circumstances to Austria, where they at first lived in various places in Lower Austria and later in Vienna. Although she seldom speaks Croatian since her relocation, she has still retained her knowledge of the language.

Jevišovka

Available in: English | Česky

A village situated at the confluence of the Thaya and Jevišovka Rivers. Until 1950, it was called Frélichov and was inhabited mostly by a Croatian minority population. The Croats arrived to southern Moravia in the 16th century, fleeing from the Turks who were gradually gaining the upper hand in conquering the Balkans. The local nobility settled them at the Moravian-Austrian border in several depopulated and desolate villages, which they brought to prosperity again. The Croats, living side to side with their Czech and German neighbors, managed to keep their own language, culture, traditions and customs for centuries. After the annexation of the Sudetenland, they had to join the German army, which was used as a pretext for their displacement after February 1948. There was no longer room for the original settlers in the borderland that was about to be re-settled with a new population loyal to the communist regime.

Jevišovka

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Little Red Cap on white snow

Little Red Cap on white snow

Stefanie Marek
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Today, they’re going to move us

Marie Čtvrtlíková
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